Have you heard about the Kashi controversy yet? It’s a total nightmare.
Grocery store owner John Wood decided to pull various food brands off his store shelves after reading a recent report by The Cornucopia Institute, Cereal Crimes (pdf). Wood also hung up a sign regarding Kashi cereal. The sign states that he removed Kashi cereal because it contained GMO ingredients, which apparently he had no clue about before reading the Cereal Crimes report. Long story short, Wood’s sign went viral and hordes of angry consumers attacked Kashi, as you can see on the Kashi Facebook page, along with a newly created Boycott Kashi page.
Basically, as USA Today puts it, consumers have waged war on Kashi for not “living up to the company’s “natural” billing on ads and boxes.” Consumers also appear to be extremely mad that Kashi is owned by Kellogg.
Sigh. Where to start…
Three main points:
- First of all, as I’ve said time and time, as have plenty of other organic advocates, the term, “Natural” means NOTHING.
- Kellogg has done nothing misleading because again, “Natural” means nothing. I can slap the term natural on any old product I like and no one can say boo about it. Natural = nothing (got that). Seriously, even Barbara Haumann of the Organic Trade Association has noted that Kellogg is not misleading people but rather that consumers are confused about food labeling.
- If you want GMO free, buy organic. That’s your best bet when it comes to GMO-free food in the USA.
The worst part is…
What really bothers me is that people are hailing Mr. Wood as some hero or great educator of the public because he removed the GMO badness from his shelves, but honestly, if you’re running a “green grocery store” wouldn’t you have already known that “Natural” means nothing? Apparently not, because it took the Cornucopia report for Wood to remove the cereal. You’re not a hero in my opinion if you run a green grocery and have no clue about food labels.
What also bothers me is that people are enraged that their cereal may contain GMOs, yet it’s estimated that 70% of all processed food at your supermarket contain genetically modified ingredients. Folks are also mad that Kashi isn’t independently owned – but really? So what, most organic companies are owned by bigger companies.
This is a government issue. The government has chosen not to regulate the term natural. And while consumers may be acting shocked, is this really THAT big a surprise. We’re talking about a government who puts BPA in your food, not to mention other gross stuff. A government who allows harmful chemicals in your body care products. The government is about big companies and $ not consumers. Everyone needs to get a grip and quit acting like this is news.
Kashi is doing what all companies do, attempting to sell products. Kashi has some certified organic products, which sure I’ve bought, and when one of their products doesn’t have the organic seal, I don’t buy it, plain and simple.
Before you throw the brick at Kashi, why not take it upon yourself to become a savvy consumer. Know what food labels mean. Learn who regulates them (and if they’re regulated). If you’re not going to take the time to keep up with food news, and learn what food labels mean plus learn how trustworthy said food labels are, then you’re going to buy questionable products now and then, but that’s not the companies fault – it’s your fault.
This is total nonsense
I don’t know why this issue ticked me off so much, but it did. There’s so much information out there about food labels now, there’s almost no excuse for consumers to be acting so upset about this Kashi issue. Consumers need to take some responsibility and educate themselves.
Usually I enjoy a little consumer angst that leads to change, but in this case, Kashi uses the organic seal correctly on their organic products and they don’t place it on their non-organics. They’re not committing any crimes here.
If consumers really want change they should target the government, asking for better, more ethical organic standards, GMO labeling across the board and regulation of all and any food labels.
Below are some links if you’d like to learn more about food labels:
- Common USDA Organic Seal Questions
- 10 Product Labels That Don’t Mean Organic
- Go organic without going insane
- What is the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal?
- What is greenwashing?
As a concerned consumer the best thing you can do is follow food news so you’re aware of organic food issues. Good places to find news include the following links…